Day: January 24, 2010

Time For Retirements On The Supreme Court!

With this shocking Supreme Court decision on campaign financing by corporations last week, it becomes very clear of the need for the Supreme Court to have an overhaul while the Democrats still have 59 members of the Senate!

With the likelihood that the Democrats will lose some seats in the Senate in the midterm 2010 elections, it becomes essential to have the two oldest members of the Court retire this coming June, allowing President Obama to fill both appointments BEFORE the midterm elections!

It is not that there is a guarantee that all of the Democrats will support whoever Obama might choose, but since GOP support is hard to gauge, it is best to replace these Court Justices now while the amount of support is likely to be greater among Democrats.

The two Justices referred to, of course, are Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Stevens is reaching 90 this April, has been on the Court for 35 years and is two years away from a Court record on age and longevity, but there are hints that he might retire this summer. Ginsberg, in her high 70s, has been on the Court for 17 years, but has had serious bouts with colon and pancreatic cancer, and cannot be expected to remain on the Court much longer.

These two liberals need to do the right thing, and give President Obama the opportunity to add two choices to what would be a younger and refreshed Court, even though neither choice would change the ideological balance of the Court. But just imagine the ultimate scenario if, god forbid, the GOP somehow took over the Senate, which would mean Obama could not pick liberal choices for the Court as he would be likely to have a long drawn out battle to gain any new members’ confirmations.

Therefore, Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsberg, please do the right thing and retire at the end of this June, 2010, with the appreciation of the nation and congratulations on a job well done! 🙂

The Supreme Court’s Return To The Gilded Age: A Blow Against Democracy!

The Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a major blow to democracy, which will reverberate throughout the American political system for a long time, unless somehow the Congress can overcome the decision by legislation, which is highly unlikely, certainly in the short run! 🙁

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the five member conservative Court majority of Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Chief Justice John Roberts radically reversed one hundred years of campaign law, including the more recent McCain-Feingold legislation, and allowed corporations unfettered access to involve themselves in any way they wish and in any amount of funding they wish to invest in electoral politics in America.

The Gilded Age of 1868-1896 was infamous for the corruption that was endemic with corporate support of politicians who backed corporate monopoly. This is what led to the Progressive Era, New Deal, Great Society and more recent efforts to restrict corporate ability to affect the American political system.

Now, in one fell swoop, the political system goes back to the late 19th century mentality, and highly benefits conservatives and Republicans over liberals and progressives and Democrats. At a time when it is obvious that there is too much coziness as it is between corporate America, conservatives and Republicans, the majority Republican court picked by Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes now has the capacity to dominate the future of American politics, and defeat Democrats, liberals, and progressives attempting to equalize opportunity for those people and classes that have never had a fair shake in our country, and have seen brief bursts of reform followed by constant retrenchment once the conservative forces regained supremacy.

The chances of real change and reform now under President Obama are greatly restricted by this Court decision, and it makes a mockery of the idea that the Scalia influenced Court majority that is supposedly “originalist” and believers in limited powers, is pursuing that, as this marks another example of the radicalism and activism of the Court, as was the case in the infamous Bush v Gore case on the 2000 presidential election.

Now conservatives talk through both sides of their mouth, about limited government while establishing more activist government in favor of the rich and the powerful over the masses of Americans who are not rich and powerful.

Now the corporations with their unlimited treasuries can blackmail politicians to do their bidding or they will be defeated by funding campaigns that will make past spending look like a minor investment! To call this case free speech is a mockery of the First Amendment, as how can corporations be considered “people”? It is similar to the Gilded Age period when the Supreme Court corruptly used the 14th Amendment, originally passed to promote “due process” and “equal protection” for African Americans and other minorities, to protect corporations’ rights to develop into monopolies!

Have we come through a whole century of working toward electoral reform to see it destroyed by this radical Court majority that shows it has no principle but its own aggrandizement? 🙁 Chief Justice Roberts has been a sore disappointment, as he pledged a limited Court approach during his confirmation hearings in 2005, but now has been dazzled by the “activist conservative” approach of Antonin Scalia, who has “twins” named Thomas and Alito to copy him as if he is a deity! And Justice Kennedy, who occasionally swings to the left, unfortunately two thirds of the time swings to the right and seems more than ever to be the only hope for those on the left, but less and less often as each case arrives and he, more than ever, goes to the right!

More than ever, it is essential somehow to convince Justice Kennedy to reconsider his move to the right or else some other way gain a fifth vote to reverse the damage to democracy this horrible case has wrought! 🙁

Certainly, this is one of the very worst decisions of the Supreme Court in recent times, and really, in all the history of the Supreme Court. The Court majority should be condemned openly for what they have done, working against our democratic system! 🙁

Obama’s Campaign Chairman, David Plouffe, Now Back Working For Obama

David Plouffe, the Obama campaign chairman in the successful 2008 election, is being brought back to coordinate the Democrats’ plans for the midterm elections in both the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the governorships, as the President realizes that his whole agenda and purpose of being elected President is in danger if the Republican party makes major gains, or god forbid, takes over control of one or both houses of Congress.

There is realization that the President can ill afford to have another “Massachusetts” occur in the fall elections, and therefore it is necessary to centralize control over the election process, and for the President to assert his authority and influence over what happens within the Democratic party in the states and nationally.

In that sense, it is a good thing that this shock in Massachusetts occurred when it did, as it gives the party and the President time to recuperate and plan strategy to advance the purposes that Barack Obama was elected for in 2008.

It seems clear that Obama must go out to the country more in town halls situations and explain what his agenda is, and what he plans to do to bring it about. Early indications are that he is promoting a populist rhetoric to arouse support, stating that he will “fight” as long as he is President, and would not “rest” until his “last breath” in promoting jobs and economic revival for the American people. The rhetoric is lofty, but the important thing is results, and David Plouffe being part of the mechanism in the White House operations should be seen as a positive step!

Barack Obama, Other Presidents, And Polls: Not To Be Taken Seriously!

In all of the discussions about President Obama’s first year in the White House, it is pointed out that his public opinion ratings have declined since he was inaugurated. Should that be a surprise? Can any President’s “honeymoon” or any person’s real honeymoon last forever? Of course not!

But, interestingly, when compared to former Presidents, it turns out that Obama’s ratings, about 50 percent, match those of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. The two Bushes were more lucky, as the first Bush saw a higher rating because of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, and the second Bush had higher grades because of the response to September 11.

So not much can be put into these ratings, as Reagan and Clinton won reelection despite lower ratings after one year, and Bush I lost reelection despite his high ratings after one year.

The President cannot allow public opinion polls to determine his agenda. He must fight for his agenda, and let the chips fall where they may!

Barack Obama And Health Care: Fight For Your Principles And Beliefs!

As a result of the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts, an election won by Republican Scott Brown, Barack Obama is receiving all kinds of advice as to what should be done about health care.

Some say to abandon the health care plan completely. That is totally unacceptable after so much effort and time put into this crucial area of the American economy, and with so many millions of Americans excluded from having access to decent health care. If that is done by the President, he will lose his entire base, and he will be perceived as caving in to the right wing and the small number of people, about 100,000, who determined in Massachusetts that they did not want health care legislation, because, after all, that state already has a similar health care plan brought about under the governorship of Republican Mitt Romney in 2006.

A second alternative is just to go for the kinds of areas of the legislation that, theoretically, many Americans and even some Republicans in Congress would agree need to be worked on, such as the age for children to continue to be covered under their parents’ health care plan, to end annual and lifetime limits on coverage, to cover preexisting conditions, and to provide health care exchanges that would allow competition and allow cross state boundary plans. While that would be certainly better than the abandonment of the whole plan, it would be a piecemeal approach to health care, and still not deal with the reality that about 15 percent of the nation would still have no access to decent health care, an issue which has been promoted since the time of Theodore Roosevelt a hundred years ago, and advocated in specific legislation since Harry Truman 65 years ago.

A third approach and the right one is to utilize legislative rules and employ “reconciliation”, which allows a Senate majority of 51 votes to pass legislation, just as 218 votes is enough as a majority in the House of Representatives to pass legislation. Why should a determined minority be permitted to block progressive change by employing obstruction and negativism and therefore prevent the will of the majority? This tactic was used regularly by the Bush Administration, a few times with Dick Cheney’s vote breaking a tie in the Senate.

Some will say that a majority of the American people are opposed to the health care plan, but that is based on conflicting polls, many of them employing questioning that distorted the topic and confused the people who were being polled. There are many indications that when people are told in detail what the health care bill promotes, then in so many cases, they will say they certainly want such plans to be enacted. It is more a question of lack of understanding and knowledge, or to put it less nicely, ignorance of the facts of the plan, that causes many to oppose it. The opposition Republicans and talk radio and Fox News Channel spend inordinate amounts of effort to promote distortion, exaggeration and pure lies to scare people and promote fear of change. The President cannot allow this to happen, as he stands by and gives in to the hysteria and ignorance of the facts.

Therefore, President Obama, you need to uphold your convictions and beliefs of the necessity of this health care legislation when you deliver the State of the Union Address this Wednesday evening, rather than concede to the critics and those who over read the Massachusetts results!

You must show the American people and your political party that you are willing to stick your neck out for what you believe in! You must show real leadership, and stop just using the word “fight” in your speeches, but actually show you have the guts and the courage as Harry Truman regularly demonstrated to “fight” with every ounce of your strength for your agenda! You have to be aggressive, as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson were, to push the party and the Congress and the American people toward your vision of what is needed! That is what you were elected to do, and you must therefore stop working at being a “nice guy”, and use the White House as a “Bully Pulpit”, as Theodore Roosevelt termed it!

So on Wednesday, come out fighting for your program, as that will inspire many millions of Americans that they have a true advocate! We have had enough of Presidents who speak for the wealthy upper class and the comfortable upper middle class! Come out for the struggling middle class and the poor, and that will inspire these people to come out and vote for you and your party in 2010 and 2012!

There are some who fear that if the President comes out slugging for his agenda, that it will be a disaster for his party in the midterm congressional elections. To me, it seems just like the exact opposite would occur, that if Obama fails to follow through, then his party will suffer a disaster. It could be that I am and other progressives are wrong, and if that turns out to be true, so be it! At least, we will know that we went down fighting for our principles! If the American people really give in to fear, hysteria, and ignorance, they will be the losers, but I don’t want this historic change in politics that occurred in 2008 to be destroyed by its advocates! If those who wish to destroy triumph, we will all be the losers, and it will lead to a counter reaction after the American people realize what a mistake they have made! But for now, Mr. President, stick to your beliefs and principles and know that we, the progressives, will be there at your back, supporting you with every ounce of our strength!